Karachi Photo Blog

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Urdu Department of the Tokyo University

Urdu Department of the Tokyo University

The Urdu Department (now called the Hindi Department) at the Tokyo University is over a century old.  Around fifteen (15) students enter the program every year and go through a four year training in reading, writing, and speaking Urdu/Hindi.  Professor Hiroshi Hagita is the current head of the Urdu Department. 
Both Professor Hiroshi Hagita and Professor Mamiya-komaki Kensaku have spent considerable amount of time in Pakistan and are well-read in Urdu literature.
On January 10, yours truly met with the three Urdu Department professors: Professor Hiroshi Hagita, Professor Mamiya-komaki Kensaku, and Professor Suhail Abbas Khan (from Faisalabad).  Professor Hiroshi Hagita was kind to let this scribe speak to a class of second-year Urdu students.
Most of the students had visited northern India or Pakistan and could do small talk in Urdu.  Yours truly read an excerpt from his latest book 'Ulat Dunya Kee Sair.'

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Thursday, December 22, 2016


Arabic is the official language of terrorism

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hillary, Your Defeat Has Shaken Confidence of Many Women

Asim Hussain, Brook Porter, and Abhay Gupta at OPEN

Hillary, Your Defeat Has Shaken Confidence of Many Women

In the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America’s ‘Clean Energy: Vision and Reality’ seminar on November 17, Asim Hussain of Bloom Energy, Abhay Gupta of Bidgely, and Brook Porter of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers spoke on energy related technologies and investments.

The first step in managing your money is to gain a knowledge of your expenses.  You should know very well how your money is leaving your bank account.  If you don't precisely know about your big ticket items every month, how can you possibly make intelligent financial decisions?

If such an accounting practice is healthy in managing money, it should be suitable in energy management too. If you know in detail about your electricity and gas usages, you can make smart decisions about the best ways to use your appliances. How much are you spending on air conditioning? How much on dishwasher? On clothes washer? On dryer? On lights?

Today’s smart meters provide instantaneous electricity and gas usage information of every customer to the utility company. If one understands the spikes and plateaus on the energy curves and can attribute them to the operation of various appliances commonly used, one can provide a more detailed energy bill than what today’s customers are used to seeing.  Such a ‘smart bill’ will not only have the total monthly energy usage, it will have a detailed breakdown enabling the customer to see any improvements they can make in their energy usage. Abhay Gupta’s company Bidgely does exactly that. Bidgely partners with utility companies to decipher data provided by the smart meters and produce smart bills for the customers.

Asim Hussain’s talk was bout the growing use of the fuel cells in the energy sector.

Imagine machines that make energy the way your body produces energy i.e., by consuming food. Food is hydrocarbon, complex chemical chains of Hydrogen and Carbon atoms. Natural gas and biogas are also hydrocarbons. Fuel cells in a way mimic human body cell operation. Fuel cells produce electricity from hydrocarbons, without burning them. How do they do that? That is the secret technology being used in a fuel cell and is normally proprietary to the manufacturer of the fuel cells.

Fuel cells have been around for some time; a while back they were only used in capital intensive space exploration missions. Things have changed.  Bloom Energy, a Bay Area fuel cell manufacturer, wants the fuel cells to be available to a large consumer market. Surprisingly, there are only a couple of big companies in the race. Many things are being tried out for the first time in the fuel cell manufacturing business. And that is why Bloom Energy wants to keep its technology a secret. We learned from the speaker that Bloom Energy is neither selling its fuel cells to China nor getting any critical fuel cell parts manufactured in China. What is totally awesome about fuel cells is that methane generated at the farms—also known as biogas--can be fed into a fuel cell to have a very high efficient energy making machine that can provide electricity to a large number of consumers.

Brook Porter talked about what investors are looking for in a start-up.  He emphasized on what his partner John Doerr says, “Ideas are easy, execution is everything.”

Q&A session
November 8 was a bad day not only for Hillary Clinton but for all the progressive-minded people who thought the Americans had arrived. If the country can elect a black president the country is probably ready for a woman president too.  But it did not happen that way.  Was Hillary Clinton’s defeat a blow to the self-esteem of many women in mid-level leadership positions? It appears that way.  The fear that sexism is still alive and well peeped through a question asked by a woman attendee: Are the investors less likely to invest in a company led by a woman?  Porter denied the allegation.

In response to a hypothesis that the new US Government under Mr. Trump will not be supportive of green energy, Brook Porter said coal mining business employs roughly 50,000 people only—in fact, over 150,000 people work in and around the coal industry, but that is still a small fraction of the total US workforce-- so revamping investment in dirty energy does not make much sense.  Trump and his team may not think too much of the environment but things have changed lately and new developments in technology are on the side of the environment and the green energy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

City College of San Francisco

Oct. 31, 2015
City College of San Francisco as seen walking on the Ocean Avenue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Parliament of Poets, in Fremont

An excellent 'Parliament of poets' program at Agha Saeed's residence, on Sunday, August 21. Kanwal Feroze, Rakhshinda Naveed, and Irfan Ahmad read their poetry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Same data, different results

Same data, different results

How often a club established to promote Urdu language, conducts its meeting in English?  How often do you see a moderator painstakingly develop a certain theme of a literary evening only to be refuted later, the carefully crafted theme torn to pieces by the person presiding over the literary sitting?
You should have attended the last meeting of the Urdu Academy of North America to see the anomalies.

The Poets of ‘Partition’
The Urdu Academy of North America holds its monthly meeting on every third Sunday of the month at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, California.
The July meeting of the Urdu Academy was moderated in English by Dr. Priya Satia, a history professor.  The poetry recitations by various Urdu Academy regulars were woven around a slide show presentation based on an over 10,000 words long write-up titled ‘The Poets of Partition’ written by Dr. Satia.   Dr. Satia's article originally appeared online, in January of this year.  An earlier presentation of 'Poets of Partition' took place on March 20, 2016 in Atherton.
The presentation given by Dr. Satia in the July 17 meeting of the Urdu Academy of North America implied that from Faiz’s ‘Dasht e Tanhaee’ to Sahir’s ‘Chaklay’, poetry of most of the Urdu poets writing around 1947 was in opposition to the ‘partition.’  Some in the audience just smiled at the incredible implication, others listened passively, but Dr. Khwaja Mohammad Zakariya presiding over the meeting was less charitable. At the end of the presentation when he was asked to speak, Dr. Zakariya said he had spent time with several poets mentioned in Satia’s presentation, and Satia was reading too much into their poetry; the results she drew were wrong. Yes, the poets of that era didn’t like the violence associated with the 1947 events, but no they did not want to see a ‘unified’ India.

The P Word
It seems the Indian and Pakistani scholars have very different views about what happened in 1947.  The Indian and Indian-descent scholars call the cataclysm of 1947, the ‘partitioning of India’, implying there was a millennia old country called India that was partitioned by the wily British when the colonial masters left South Asia. 
To the Pakistani scholars this very idea of ‘Partition of India’ reeks of the ‘Akhand Bharat’ theme.  For the scholars on this side of the border the British India was an artificial political entity bundled together for the administrative convenience of the colonial masters; that at the conclusion of the colonial rule a political restructuring took place and India and Pakistan came into being. 
Yes, the British Indian province of Punjab and Bengal were partitioned during the political re-structuring, but no ‘partitioning’ of India took place in 1947 as the Union of India came into being as a result of the events of that year.